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2011 Volvo S60 Review - VIDEO ENHANCED

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2011 Volvo S60

SEE ALSO: Volvo Buyers Guide



Model: 2011 Volvo S60
Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged I6
Horsepower/Torque: 300 hp @ 5,600 rpm/325 lb.-ft. @ 2,100-4,200 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manual
Wheelbase: 109.3 in.
Length/Width/Height: 182.2 x 73.4 x 58.4 in.
Tires: P235/40R18
Cargo volume: 12.0 cu. ft.
Fuel economy: 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway/21 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 17.8 gal.
Curb weight: 3,901 lbs.
Sticker: $37,700 base, $46,200 as tested (includes $850 destination charge)

The Bottom Line: You expect a Volvo to be safe. You expect a Volvo to have some measure of performance. You expect a Volvo to be comfortable and have good road manners. what you don't expect from this total redesign of the S60 is a Volvo that is absolutely stunning, with design features that don't detract from its Volvoness.

Volvo has always impressed me as a fairly conservative company, except for their (in)famous Helan går aquavit drinking song. So when I got my first look at the new S60 sedan, I must admit I was surprised. here was a car that is definitely not conservative, particularly when it's wearing a metallic orange/bronze paint scheme.

The S60 showcases a new design language for Volvo that is sleek and softened with a "race track" interior and exterior line that ties it all together.

The S60 competes n the Premium C-D segment against such cars as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3-Type, Audi A4 and Lexus IS. It replaces a volume car that has sold more than 100,000 units in the United States. Trust me, nobody will miss the old S60.

This is not only a luxury car, it's a performance car as well. The other sin the segment simply don't have this kind of performance. Volvo race driver (yes, there's a Volvo race team) Andy Pilgrim says the S60 has the P word - Performance.

The 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6 under the hood generates a healthy 300 horsepower. Acceleration is great from 0-60 or 60-100 (when passing). It feels comfortable at any speed, and that's also a safety feature that Volvo doesn't advertise; the ability to get out of trouble.

Click PLAY to watch promo video for the Volvo S60 and V60

There isn't a lot of noise when you accelerate. Under hard acceleration when you're passing it's a pleasure and a disappointment when you eventually have to lift. You hit the loud pedal, the turbo kicks in, and you're past the vehicle in front of you. The bad part is that once you've hit the higher speeds, driving at 70 (or lower) feels like crawling.

Incidentally, there's no turbo steer, or even a hint.

Handling is very good, and in many cases depends on how much nerve you have on some corners. My co-driver had more than I, but still not enough to scare me. We both found the ride quality to be excellent.

We had an opportunity to drive the S60 on the race track at Oregon Raceway Park, near Portland. For a passenger car, the S60 had excellent manners when driven hard. The handling was not race-car hard, but it did the job. I felt I was turning good times because the S60 inspired me to smoother driving.

The front seats are comfortable and offer excellent side support. In our tester they were upholstered in what I'd call basketball leather. There are large side bolsters for the two front and the outside rear seats. There's even a hint of a bolster for what passes for a center seat in the rear. Rear seat legroom is very good. My co-driver is 6-5 or so and he didn't feel scrunched up back there. A nice feature is that it's possible to lower the rear headrests from the front, using a switch on the console. This way, rearward vision isn't obstructed if there are no rear passengers.

This is also probably the safest car in its segment. With the S60, Volvo is introducing a new feature called Pedestrian Protection. If you're traveling at under 22 mph (30 kph; let's not forget this is a Swedish car), the car will absolutely stop if there's a person standing in front of you. When we did the demonstration, there was a dummy to simulate the person. I didn't really care if I hit the dummy or not (after all, it wasn't a real person) so I had no thought of hitting the brake. But the S60 didn't want to hit it. After all, they're both Volvo "employees," and stopped within about two feet of the dummy.

Click PLAY to watch video featuring pedestrian protection

In addition, there are cameras in the rear and one in the front with a 180-degree view to alert you to any potential "situations."

Inside, the instrument panel is clear, with a nice console using Volvo's thin center stack.

As with most cars, the S60 is at its best on smooth roads, and our test route in Oregon had some great ones. There is a tendency for poor asphalt or cement to transmit road noise into the cockpit. But if that's the only problem, and it was the only one we could find, then Volvo has a winner.

© 2010 The Auto Page Syndicate